We left Fernando well rested. Everyone would have like to have stayed a little longer but before long we heaved up the anchor, set the sails and continued on our journey. Onwards to Suriname!
We had decent winds throughout the sail, moving from broad-reach to beam-reach for the most part. The days were sunny, off and on cloudy, with rain appearing several times throughout the sail. At nights, the watches were happy to come up to the bridge to strong, warm Atlantic winds. The dorms were as hot as ever, and it was a welcome respite.
We did anything we could to stay cool; bucket showers before bed, sleeping with no covers, not going down to the dorms for as long as was not necessary, anything. Some of us resorted to sleeping on the breezeways and were rewarded with checks the following morning.
Despite the heat, spirits were up. After the long crossing from Dakar to Fernando de Noronha, I think everyone had gotten use to being on the ocean for long periods of time. We were also kept busy, which kept our mind off the lack of land there was to be seen on the horizon. The semester was coming to a close and everyone was feeling ready to go home despite there being still two ports. With exams heavy on everybody’s mind, Study Hall was expanded, students stayed up later, and woke up earlier. Final assignments were handed in, and the last corrections were made.
Happily however, school-work wasn’t the only thing that kept us busy. Sailing and work on deck was always to be done. And there was of course Christmas which was fast approaching. In Fernando, the last of us bought our secret Santa gifts. On the 25th of December, Cody called a snow-day and we had no school. Vincent, Emile, Lukas, Sara and Joe prepped a massive pancake breakfast. At 07:00 hours, soft Christmas tunes floated through dorms.
Sleepy floaties slowly drifted out their bunks, up to the mess. There they were greeted by fresh fruit, heaps of hot pancakes and a steaming pot of raspberry syrup. Behind the bar, piled high on the window sill and surrounded by Christmas decorations, were the presents. Everyone sat down to music, good food and a morning breeze coming through the doors. Later that morning, the entire crew gathered on the foredeck and by watch, and amongst a lot excited yelling and exuberant ripping of wrapping paper, proceeded to open the gifts. Hands down, the best gift was from Alanis to Baby Thomas; a baby doll.
Christmas Day carried on with mirror night watches. In the evening, just before the sun went down, students, teachers and crew members alike came together in silence on the aft bridge-deck, facing west. Everyone took some time to reflect, watching the sunset. Being away from our families and home during this time of year was hard on a lot us. The year coming to an end was definitely something that was on everybody’s mind.
One thing that was increasingly on everyone’s mind was that our two ABs Sammy and Gaia would be leaving us in Suriname. Two very experienced and hardworking sailors, the amount of respect everyone gained for them since we all first met in Amsterdam was unmatched. Both had become loved by everyone aboard the Gulden Leeuw. Their quiet presence and confidence helped everyone through the long sails and rough times. They lead, helped and taught us so much over the four months. Those who are aware of it, realized that they taught us more about sailing then anybody could ever have done, but also so much more. Personally, as an individual, I have gained so many invaluable perspectives on things, thanks to them, that have helped me be more open-minded and they will have an everlasting effect on me. Now, that this blog is being written on the homestretch to Barbados, they are no longer with us. From everyone on the Gulden Leeuw, it was privilege to have met you, to have worked with you and to have learned from you, you will be missed dearly. Thank you, Sammy and Gaia.
Two days later, on the 27th, we dropped anchor 19 nautical miles off the coast of Suriname. At night, the lights of the capital, Paramaribo, could be seen from ship. We sat at anchor, surrounded by Chinese fishing vessels, until the 29th. We did a deep clean, the last of the semester, in the morning. Later that day, despite some troubles with an oil leak from a hydraulic hose on the anchor winch, we motored into Paramaribo. The end of the first half was nearly upon us, and everyone was ready to go home.
Written by Class Afloat Student, Lukas G.